Green Fashion

Carbon Neutral Leggings & Slow Fashion

I recently purchased two pairs of leggings from the UK’s best known ethical brand, People Tree. The leggings are made from organic cotton. Organic cotton has an incredibly positive impact on the planet: the farmers, their land, and consequently the environment and eco-system and ultimately the clothes that they become, simply because the soils traps more CO2 and the lack of #chemicals used.

In the case of these leggings, they are carbon neutral as a result, as organic farming ‘holds 1.5 tons of CO2 in the soil each year.

People Tree Tag

People Tree and Assisi garment tag

Organic Farming Facts: 

  • -Avoids harmful pesticides
  • -Avoids fertilisers
  • -Better for the soil and subsequent usage as well as the current eco-system and local environment
  • -Prevents the spread of even more harmful chemicals in the environment

Why is organic farming so important?

According to this article #organic cotton doesn’t just:

1. require less water as it

2. Uses no pesticides, insecticides or herbicides which account for an estimated 20,000 deaths annually in Asia

3. Protects eco-systems as a result of not using the above

Sadly, less than 1% of the cotton produced is organic 🙁

4. Organic cotton is better for us as well, as we won’t end up wearing clothes full of harmful chemicals and the

5. Farmers, cotton factory workers and garment makers  (the supply chain) are exposed to harmful chemicals each working day-this doesn’t seem necessary or fair

6. As it is estimated that 10,000 cotton farmers in the USA dies from cancers associated with farming fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides

Read the article here

The FULL package:

In fact the entire bundle I received in the post from People Tree was pretty environmentally friendly: 

  • The outer packaging was made from recycled sources
  • The ‘plastic’ the leggings were in was biodegradable
  • The label was held on with a ribbon instead of plastic
  • The information about the garment was minimal and printed onto paper
  • There wasn’t any additional marketing like flyers or a catalogue

People Tree was founded by Safia Minney over 25-years ago. It has since earned itself an international reputation, recognised as an affordable and ethical brand on our high street today (although they don’t have physical shops, they are in smaller boutiques but still largely mail order).

Fair trade is a citizen’s response to correcting the social injustice in a international trading system that is largely dysfunctional, where workers and farmers are not paid a living wage, and where the environment is not considered at all…” 

People Tree has surely been a driver of the ethical fashion movement and has helped highlight the need to bring much needed awareness to the way in which the clothes we wear are made. And thankfully more and more small fashion houses are popping up with a clear message of transparency in fashion and consideration towards the environment.

In fact in 2017 and more prominently in the preceding years, the ethics of how exactly the fast fashion we all invest in (and all too regularly) is made, has become a burning issue for many high profile individuals such as  Safia Minney, Vivienne Westwood and Livia Firth to name just a few; as well as everyday consumers and fashion bloggers who are all making their own contribution nu holding fashion brands to account, and adopting  the hashtag #whomademyclothes, in an attempt to find out more about the item of clothing: what were the conditions of the garment worker, their name, their locations. The hashtag also has the capacity to act as push towards more transparency in an already very shadowy industry.

The plight of garment workers, most of whom are women, has been documented in ‘The True Cost’, a poignant documentary that tells the truth about the people who make our clothes.

The True Cost is directed and was conceptualised by Andrew Morgan, who uncovers a lot of what most consumers already have some idea about (but the lure of fast fashion is too tempting to resist).

As viewers of the The True Cost we can only be affected by the information and it could quite possibly be  powerful enough to make us change our shopping habits for good.

One of the participants, a garment worker in Bangladesh, relays her own poignant story of how her work in Dhaka means she’ll be separated from her daughter Nadia for up to one year. Due to the long hours and working environment, her daughter is safer and better cared for in the village with her grandparents, while her mother Sheema earns a living in the city.

It’s hard for us to comprehend not seeing our own child for a year because of poverty and entrapmen. Yet this IS the reality for so many parents working in the garment industry, all over the world. When you hear this story that new dress or those new trainers don’t quite have the same allure anymore, do they?

What would happen if The True Cost was played on loop in every high street store in the UK, the world even, everyday? Wouldn’t the outcome be able to tell us to depth of the problem, which ever way it swung?

People Tree have demonstrated that fashion can be ethical and kind to the environment while functioning as a successful business. They’re international, popular, appeal to a wide demographic, support their workers and are thoughtful in their choice of packaging (see below- the leggings were wrapped in bio plastic)

People Tree packaging

People Tree packaging

It’s a shame the reality is there are so few like them, and so few current high street shops seem unwilling to change their ways. For example, I took a walk through the high street in Bristol were there are probably 100 high street shops, and not a single-one can claim the credentials of People Tree. It’s sad that even with so much enlightenment and transparency thanks to telling documentaries like The True Cost, more retailers aren’t responsive in bringing about change quicker.

You can visit the Ethical Fashion Forum to find a long lost of ethical outlets and visit the Soil Association by clicking here, where you’ll find a number of brands that use certified organic cotton.

Instead of centralised action, tokenism is rife and unsurprisingly quite common these days. Consider H&M’s Conscious Collection or the LOVE range at Monsoon, all of which aren’t making any huge amount of difference to the majority of their employees, and ironically such lines are merely demonstrating garment industries inequalities louder.

It’s effectively saying, “Hi, welcome to {insert shop name here} on this side of the store you have the garments made by garment employees we don’t give much of a damn about, and over here in this corner is our organic cotton range, where we paid a handful of people a little bit extra to show the world we are doing as much as we can and that deep down, way, way beneath our profit margins, we really do care.”

POWER to the consumer:

As consumers we are able to use our voice, our vote, by choosing where we to spend our money, which can transpire to be meaningfully or meaninglessly. To this end, we do have the consumer power to affect positive change. And we can do this by buying less but buying better from retailers who are making a difference.

Ethical Fashion is already a reality…

This is not a Utopian ideal for the fashion industry, because People Tree are proof that it is a sustainable business model. Perhaps current high street leaders will make less overall profits, which are generally staggering by the way) but perhaps this is at the heart of the change we need address: simple greed, and with that, **perhaps** those CEO bonuses need to be a little less generous too.

Documentaries that portray the realities of the garment industry, such as The True Cost are only likely to increase as the world of capitalism and its ugly creation : fashion fashion  is pitted against individuals and companies who are using the internet, their blogs, their social media accounts to expose the ugliness its ugliness and question its exploitative traits, all of which are the direct result of 21st century consumer capitalism: supply and demand.

Ask yourself this: would you sacrifice rearing your own child for an unknown period of time? No! Then why should mother’s like Sheema? 

You and I know fast fashion SUCKS the life out of its workers, produces soulless clothes AND ironically makes us poorer because we simply buy more…so STOP SUPPORTING FAST FASHION TODAY and buy ethical brands that use Organic cotton for a healthier, happier world.

References:

Soil Association

Global Organic Textile Standard 

Huffington Post 

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